Aer Lingus and Ryanair win Europe tax case
Ryanair and Aer Lingus won a court challenge yesterday against a European Union ruling which ordered the airlines to repay money related to the Government's air travel tax.
The two carriers took their fight to the EU's General Court in Luxembourg after the European Commission ruled in 2012 that they had benefited from illegal state aid by paying a lower levy for domestic flights between 2009 and 2011.
Aer Arann is also set to benefit from yesterday's decision.
"We welcome today's ruling which confirms that Ryanair is not required to pay the Irish State approximately €12m in respect of the Air Travel Tax paid at a lower (€2) rate between 2009 and 2011," Ryanair said in a statement.
The EU competition authority ordered the Government here to recover €8 per passenger on short-haul flights from the airlines.
Judges said yesterday that the Commission's arguments were flawed.
"The General Court annuls the Commission decision in so far as it orders the recovery of the aid from the beneficiaries for an amount set at €8 per passenger," it added.
"The Commission could not consider that the advantage enjoyed by the airlines automatically amounted, in all cases, to €8 per passenger."
The Government subsequently modified its air travel tax to a flat rate for all flights, domestic and international, in 2011 following the probe.
The controversial tax was then abolished in April last year.
Aer Lingus added yesterday that it also expects to get a refund from a related High Court action.